Maine Sportsmen vs. the Northern Forest

There is an element of sportsmen committed to access at ANY cost, and maybe that’s giving them more credit than they deserve. The 14,000-member Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), for example, is whooping it up for the biggest development ever proposed for the north woods (or the State of Maine, for that matter). Does SAM speak for most Maine sportsmen? And is SAM’s director, George Smith, truly concerned about access (which timber companies have always permitted and which they have no reason to deny and every reason to grant)? Or are there other motives? These are interesting and important questions. In any case, Plum Creek -- the biggest private landowner in America and known in the West as “The Darth Vader of the Timber Industry” because of its modus operandi of razing forests and hawking the broken, stump-studded ruins for condos and second homes -- wasted no time in wining and dining Smith and flying him to Montana to view examples of its forest practices that it had carefully chosen and that were in no way representative of its standard cut-out-and-get-out logging. With that, Plum Creek started funding SAM. Finally, it hired Smith’s sister to promote its development. In any case, Smith wrote the editorial (linked below) for major Maine newspapers before SAM’s board had voted to support Plum Creek’s development in the Moosehead region and before the public at four scoping sessions (and even the company itself) had decided that the plan needed to be thrown out. The revised plan was announced at a press conference in Augusta on April 4 (at which Plum Creek imported Smith to once again ooze and gush about its proposed development). The new plan is scarcely any better than the old one. The alleged “improvements” are basically smoke and mirrors. The size and footprint are essentially the same. There will be 1,725 dwelling units -- 975 of them house lots, the others connected with two massive resorts -- all strewn around the wildest parts of the Moosehead watershed (especially shorelines) from Long Pond, 30 miles north of Greenville on the west side of the lake, to Lily Bay, 15 miles north of Greenville on the east side. Apparently sportsmen in Maine (at least the sportsmen who allow George Smith to speak for them; and we’ve not heard much from the others) are fine and dandy with massive habitat fragmentation and massive habitat destruction, as well as roads, powerlines, fertilizer, road salt, sewage, dogs, cats, traffic, and all suburban blights that eliminate fish and wildlife and ruin wild country.